Michael Sam Placed on Suspended List by Montreal Alouettes

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2015

Mar 22, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Defensive end Michael Sam (11) heads to the field prior to participating in drills during the NFL Veteran Combine at the Arizona Cardinals training facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Alouettes announced they placed defensive end Michael Sam on their suspended list Monday, three days after he left the team's training camp for personal reasons.

Moving Sam to the suspended list frees up his roster spot as Montreal continues making adjustments to prepare for the regular season. The team also announced the release of six players Monday.

"I think he will be back," Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said on June 25, according to Les Carpenter of The Guardian. "I’ll be surprised if he is not back. He wants to play. I will be very surprised if he is not back."

"I think he needed a break," Popp continued, per Carpenter. "That’s my personal belief. I think it was just overwhelming to some degree, and he needs to clear his mind, clear his head. Do I think he wants to play? Do I think he wants to be on the field? Do I think he wants to be Michael Sam the football player? I, 100%, believe that. Yes."

By suspending Sam rather than releasing him outright, Montreal retains the defensive end's rights, according to Zurkowsky. 

Sam, 25, left Montreal training camp Friday for undisclosed "personal reasons." The Alouettes said in a statement he would be allowed to come back to the team, though it's unclear if he will do so: "The Montreal Alouettes fully respect Michael Sam's decision, and we rally around him to offer all the support needed. The team has left the door open, and Michael is welcome to come back whenever he feels ready."

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A former SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, Sam signed a two-year contract with Montreal last month. He came to the CFL after stops with the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys in 2014. Sam, the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft, was cut by St. Louis and Dallas for roster considerations.

LM Otero/Associated Press

The move to Canada was largely seen as a proving ground for an eventual NFL return.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he returns," Alouettes general manager Jim Popp told Zurkowsky. "I'm surprised he left. I was very surprised. If he doesn't come back, I would think football's over for him. He's the one that has to face that. But I don't think he doesn't want to play football. That's why he came here."

A source told Zurkowsky that Sam left the team after "pouting" due to his poor play in camp. Another source said the chances of Sam returning to Montreal were "nonexistent." Details about the reasoning behind those comments were vague but focused largely on Sam being ill-prepared for camp and taking issue with comments from a teammate about his disappointing play.

Neither Sam nor his representatives have made a public comment since he left the team. Sam's Twitter account was last active June 7.

With no NFL teams seemingly willing to give Sam a chance, we may be headed toward the end of his football career before it ever really got going.

Follow Tyler Conway, @tylerconway22, on Twitter.